Mail-Order Nurseries
This is my site Written by Geoff on February 1, 2001 – 6:20 pm

For the past month we have all been receiving gardening catalogs through the mail. Most of these are like old friends to us. What would the Winter be without the Seeds of Change or Jung Seed Catalogs? For the gardener, this is the time of year when we can sit back browse the pages and plan this year’s garden.

The last few seasons we have seen some major changes in the mail-order plant and seed industry. The trend is toward consolidation of some major players. White Flower Farms is a good example of a company who has made some major purchases starting with the Daffodil Mart and ending who knows where. We see from our recent catalog from Shepherd’s Seeds is now in the White Flower family.

Is this trend good or bad for the home gardener? We are still trying to decide how we feel on this one. Surely we are going to miss some old friends, businesses we have learned to trust and depend on over the years. We will treat these mergers as we would any new company and give them a try with a few smaller orders to see just how they will measure up.

Our concern is that we will see the personal service we have all learned to respect when some of these tried and proven nurseries go by the wayside. We all know what to expect if we go to a major discount center such as K-Mart, Target, Wal-Mart, or Lowes with a question or seeking that “Special Plant” we read about in Green Scenes. These places are excellent for sources for the more common plants and they do offer good pricing, just do not ask a question or expect much service. Also, we have always questioned just how much training in plant care these “Sales Associates” have received. We cannot help but carry these feelings over to the consolidated mail order companies.

We could be wrong about our uneasy feeling of this new trend in the gardening industries. You have all seen this trend in other industries such as banking, drugs, and even medical communities. We liked it when we knew Bill the bank president or Fred the druggist was looking out for our welfare. Gardening to us is a very personal recreation and requiring a personal touch. Part of the fun of gardening is discussing our plants with others of a like interest. This is why, even if the price is a little higher, we always patronize our local garden center first. Life would be just a little less fun without them.

While we will continue to give the “Wal-Marts” of the gardening industry an opportunity to prove themselves, the proven nurseries will receive our patronage. Old friends like Niche Gardens, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, and Plants Delight are hard to beat.

All change is not for the worse. We have seen some fine new nurseries such as Naylor Creek come on the seen. We just need to keep out eyes open so we do not miss them. Every day more gardening sites appear on the Internet, most good sites will soon have a loyal following only too willing to expound on their virtues. Good references on sites can be found in periodicals such as Green Scene, Horticulture, or the Advent Gardener. Another good resource can be found by joining a gardening email list such as Perennial List at perennials @mallorn.com. This “List” is made up of gardeners, for gardeners, and by gardeners. Each day’s postings are full of useful information and conversation. To subscribe simply send an Email to Majordomo@mallorn.com with this message in the body of your Email subscribe perennial (your Email address).

The Garden Gate is a site with references to almost any topic you could think of in gardening. The Garden Gate’s Gardening Lists (http://www.prairienet.org/garden-gate/maillist.htm) provides a quick source for those interested in subscribing.

We are always looking for new nurseries that fit out needs. Personally, we like to order over the Internet. It is quick, accurate, efficient, and safe. Also, we have found that we get better and quicker responses to our questions by email. Most of the newer companies coming on board have very good user friendly sites with loads of information for the gardener.

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Modified: March 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm UTC

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